3 Best SARMs for Cutting (Before/After Pictures)

Dr George TouliatosDisclaimer: SARMs are only to be used for research purposes, as they are non-FDA approved compounds and thus may cause adverse effects. If you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Touliatos is currently available for consultations.


SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulators) were formulated to mimic the muscle-building effects of anabolic steroids, as a potential medicinal treatment for cachexia.

Thus, SARMs’ main function is anabolism i.e. to increase lean muscle tissue. However, SARMs also possess lipolytic (fat-burning) effects, due to stimulation of AR (androgen receptors). Typically, most SARMs will reduce overall body fat by 2-3% from a standard cycle.

However, the compounds below have more potent effects on reducing adipose tissue, compared to the average SARM.

Below are the 3 best SARMs for cutting, enabling users to maximize fat loss and increase muscle retention when in a calorie deficit.

Note: There are certain compounds that are referred to as ‘SARMs’ but are not. We also include these in our list to give our readers a variety of options.

1. Cardarine

Cardarine (GW-501516) is not a SARM, but instead a PPARD (Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Delta) receptor agonist.

It was recently formulated in 1992 as a potential medicinal treatment for obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.

Fat Loss

Cardarine possesses exceptional fat-burning properties, making it one of the most potent lipolytic compounds that exist today; alongside T3 and Clenbuterol.

Cardarine burns fat by improving insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance and lipid balance. Thus, by reducing the body’s utilization of glucose, it shifts from burning stored fat as its main energy source.

Muscle Endurance

Cardarine also has profound effects on muscular endurance, due to it inducing mitochondrial biogenesis and the remodeling of muscle tissue. Clinical research has shown Cardarine to convert fast-twitch fibers to slow-twitch; delaying the onset of fatigue during aerobic activity.

Slow-twitch fibers have superior efficacy in the utilization of oxygen, due to elevated ATP (adenosine triphosphate) levels in the muscles.

One study observed a 68% increase in muscular endurance when mice took Cardarine for 3 weeks (1).

Not only is Cardarine capable of burning fat directly, by essentially changing the body’s primary source of energy. But it also causes fat loss indirectly, by increasing calorie expenditure and the metabolic rate. This occurs due to users performing longer workouts, as a consequence of enhanced endurance levels.

After researchers observed the potent effects of Cardarine on muscular endurance, athletes started taking it to gain an advantage over their competition. This inevitably led to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) banning Cardarine, and placing it in the ‘hormones and metabolic modulators’ category.

Cardarine’s positive effects on fat loss and muscular endurance can largely be maintained post-cycle, if users continue exercising/eating in the same vein. Muscle memory also plays a role in cementing improvements in endurance, which typically remain significantly enhanced compared to pre-cycle levels, but less so vs on-cycle.

Muscle Gains

Cardarine also possesses mild anabolic properties, with phase II studies recording a 1.3kg increase in muscle when taking 10mg/day of Cardarine for 12 weeks (2).

Thus, substantial increases in muscle hypertrophy should not be expected, however, there is evidence Cardarine will aid in the retention of muscle tissue when cutting.

Cholesterol

Cardarine makes for an excellent option when stacking with SARMs, due to its positive effects on HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

With SARMs having a negative effect on blood lipids, Cardarine can aid in cardiovascular health by countering potential spikes in blood pressure; thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis in genetically susceptible individuals.

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Cardarine Results

The above user ran Cardarine for 12 weeks, starting on 10mg/day for the first week, and 20mg/day for the remaining 11 weeks. He lost 40lbs, dropping from 205lbs (pre-cycle) to 165lbs (post-cycle). He lost an estimated 10% of body fat, and did not report of any notable side effects.

cardarine before and after 2

The above user lost 20lbs and 5% of body fat from a 4 week cycle on 10mg/day. This cautious cycle may be the best protocol to mitigate cancer risks, by cutting the common dosage and cycle length in half.

Cardarine Side Effects

Carcinogenic

Cardarine has shown to be carcinogenic in preclinical trials after rats were given hyper doses (5mg/kg per day) continuously over 2 years.

This dosage translates to 65mg/day for an 80kg human. However, the average dosage taken by men today is 10-20mg/day.

Also, the average Cardarine cycle duration is approximately 8 weeks. Thus, the 2 year cycle administered to rodents was excessive and actually translated as a third of their lifespan.

Anecdotally, many Cardarine users have experienced no issues regarding the proliferation of cancer cells during cycles. Furthermore, there is evidence that small dosages of Cardarine can still provide exceptional results for fat loss, which may be a suitable methodology for decreasing potential risks.

Currently, there are no human studies that demonstrate any carcinogenic risk when taken in the dosages men and women administer today (for cosmetic purposes). However, individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer proliferation should avoid Cardarine, as it will almost certainly exacerbate their condition. Until more research is completed, it is unknown how much of a cancer risk Cardarine may be to humans.

Liver Toxicity

In human phase I and II studies, conservative dosages of Cardarine did not produce any significant fluctuations in ALT/AST liver enzymes.

However, Dr. Thomas O’Connor has described a standard dosage of Cardarine (up to 20mg/day) as being the equivalent of 50mg/day of Anavar.

This is notable hepatotoxicity, at least in the short term. Such conflicting experiences may be due to Cardarine causing cellular proliferation. Thus, if someone has existing hepatic issues (hypothetically from steroid use) and then takes Cardarine, their existing liver injury may exacerbate.

Equally, those with fully functioning livers taking conservative dosages are likely to experience minimal to no hepatotoxicity.

In summary, individuals should ensure that their liver is in good condition before taking Cardarine (or any SARMs), and take 500mg/day of TUDCA (tauroursodeoxycholic acid) to inhibit potential hepatic inflammation/strain on-cycle.

2. Ostarine

Ostarine (MK-2866) is one of the best SARMs for cutting or bulking; as it simultaneously enhances fat loss and builds lean muscle.

Ostarine burns fat via two chemical pathways: stimulation to the AR (androgen receptors) and improvements in insulin sensitivity. Both of these mechanisms promote reductions in subcutaneous and visceral fat mass.

Ostarine builds muscle by stimulating androgen receptors, whilst also enhancing satellite cell cycle activation, causing increased myonuclei in the muscle cells.

When bulking, users can expect to build up to 10lbs of lean muscle on Ostarine.

When cutting, users can expect to add notable amounts of muscle size, with approximately a 3% reduction in body fat.

Ostarine thus simultaneously produces a bigger, leaner and stronger physique.

Women also commonly take Ostarine, as it does not typically cause any virilization effects. Anecdotally, women may also experience superior results on Ostarine, in comparison to men, with females reporting significant increases in lean body mass (>20lbs). Thus, Ostarine is more anabolic in females, possibly due to them having significantly less endogenous testosterone.

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Ostarine Results

ostarine before and after

The above user took Ostarine for 45 days, at 20mg/day. He lost 7lbs in weight, yet gained a notable amount of muscle mass.

Note: when trying to gauge how effective a SARM is, do not go by the scales, but instead the mirror (taking before and after pictures). Because hypothetically, someone could gain 10lbs of muscle and lose 10lbs of fat and there would be no fluctuation in body weight, yet in the mirror there would be a colossal difference.

ostarine before and after

The above user cycled Ostarine for 6 weeks and lost 13lbs. His starting dosage was 12.5mg/day for week 1, then increasing to 25mg/day for the following 5 weeks.

He experienced no obvious side effects, yet achieved noteworthy fat loss, improved muscle definition and enhanced vascularity.

This user said he did not notice any improvements in muscle hypertrophy; however, he credits Ostarine for preserving his muscle on an aggressive cut.

If users eat in an excessive calorie deficit, muscle loss can become apparent when cutting. In such an instance, Ostarine-users will almost certainly maintain their size. However, if a modest calorie deficit (-500/day) is adopted, muscle gains are still possible when cutting with this SARM.

ostarine before and after 3

The above user took 20mg/day of Ostarine for 8 weeks and lost 23lbs.

He adopted a calorie-deficit diet during his cycle, contributing to some of the subcutaneous fat loss. He does not appear to have built any additional muscle mass, despite muscle tone significantly improving.

He credits Ostarine for preserving his muscle hypertrophy and strength, as he was cutting on just 1,800 calories per day.

This user experienced temporary hepatotoxicity during his cycle with his ALT (alanine aminotransferase) levels rising to 57 IU/L. This is approximately 30% higher than standard levels.

He also reported feeling tired and having decreased well-being post-cycle, which was contrary to a sense of euphoria felt on-cycle. After having his testosterone levels checked, he was clinically diagnosed as hypogonadal and consequently offered testosterone replacement therapy.

Note: If men do take Ostarine and notice their testosterone levels have dropped significantly post-cycle, they should utilize a post-cycle therapy and cease taking all SARMs or anabolic steroids. Thus, Testosterone should be avoided in such an instance, as it will exacerbate endogenous testosterone.

Ostarine Side Effects

Ostarine is considered the safest SARM available, due to its mild effects. However, it is important to note that the FDA is yet to approve Ostarine, and thus it remains a ‘research chemical’.

Testosterone Suppression

Anecdotally, it is common for weightlifters to experience normal energy, well-being, nocturnal erections and libido when taking standard dosages of Ostarine, up to 25mg/day for 6 weeks (3).

However, notable suppression is still possible on Ostarine with some users suffering from low testosterone post-cycle. One user’s testosterone fell to 148 ng/dL after taking Ostarine for 8 weeks at 20mg/day (4). This is almost 100 ng/dL lower than the lower average testosterone range for his age.

Cholesterol

Ostarine has a negative effect on HDL (high-density lipoprotein), with research showing a 3mg/day dosage can reduce levels by 27%. This is a low dosage by bodybuilding standards, with men taking up to 20mg/day and women up to 10mg/day.

Cardarine and other SARMs raise blood pressure with them being oral compounds and thus passing through the liver upon entry. Consequently, this stimulates hepatic lipase, a liver enzyme that has a negative impact on HDL cholesterol.

Thus, men and women should be cautious of this side effect by increasing the frequency of cardiovascular exercise and supplementing with 4g/day of fish oil.

Note: Some estrogenic and androgenic side effects, such as puffy nipples, hair loss and acne are possible on Ostarine, due to it indirectly affecting natural aromatization and 5α-reductase levels.

3. Stenabolic

Stenabolic (SR9009) is not officially a SARM, but a REV-ERB agonist.

REV-ERB is a protein that modifies the 24-hour body clock of a human (circadian rhythm).

These compounds essentially are formulated to induce wakefulness during daylight hours.

Fat Loss

REV-ERB agonists affect lipid and glucose metabolism, inducing an elevated BMR (basal metabolic rate) and enhancing fatty acid oxidization.

Stenabolic, when taken correctly to maximize bioavailability (which we will advise on shortly), can be viewed as a potent alternative to Cardarine.

In one study, mice were injected with Stenabolic for 7 days, causing a reduction in total fat mass (5). Interestingly, their food intake was unaltered, indicating direct fat-burning effects from Stenabolic (regardless of individuals eating in a calorie deficit).

Furthermore, genetically obese mice also stopped gaining weight after 12 days on Stenabolic, without their tolerance of insulin or glucose being impacted.

Endurance

Stenabolic raises mitochondria content in muscle cells, significantly increasing muscular endurance in users. This can provide a (further) indirect fat-burning effect in active individuals, due to increased calorie expenditure, as their workout durations are likely to increase.

Biological Availability

Stenabolic’s effectiveness is largely determined by the user’s administration method. Most individuals take Stenabolic orally in liquid form, due to it being an easy and effective route of entry. Taking Stenabolic sublingually is significantly more effective than just swallowing it. Thus, for maximum absorption, the liquid should be placed underneath the tongue for 10 seconds before swallowing. This method circumvents first-pass metabolism, enabling fast drug entry into the bloodstream.

Stenabolic tablets are also widely used, yet are not recommended, due to SR9009 pills possessing a very low biological availability. Thus, the body will only be able to absorb a fraction of the compound and results will be extremely minimal (if any).

Some users choose to inject Stenabolic, being the most optimal form of administration for maximum BV, although not dramatically superior to taking Stenabolic sublingually.

Cholesterol Benefits

Stenabolic, unlike SARMs, offers cardioprotective properties, due to its suppressive effects on LDL cholesterol (6). Thus, Stenabolic is not cardiotoxic and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction when stacked with SARMs (with the latter reducing high-density lipoprotein).

Stenabolic possesses a half-life of 4-6 hours, thus to maintain peak concentrations of this compound in the bloodstream; users should take 3 dosages per day (morning, afternoon and evening).

Stenabolic is commonly taken in dosages of 20-30mg/day, with a cycle duration of 8 weeks.

Stenabolic Side Effects

Despite often being referred to as a SARM, Stenabolic does not duplicate the side effects of SARMs. At present, there are no cardiac, hepatic or HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis) risks associated with Stenabolic.

It is common for users to notice no adverse effects on Stenabolic; however, some users may experience increased sweating or mild insomnia. Thus, taking the last dosage in the evening a few hours before sleep would be preferable compared to just prior.

Summary: What is the Best SARM for Cutting?

sr 9009 mk2866 cardarine
The best SARM for cutting, purely in terms of fat loss, is Cardarine (officially a PPARD agonist/not a SARM).

The best SARM for burning fat and retaining muscle when cutting is Ostarine.

The best SARM for maximizing fat loss, with the most optimal safety profile/least side effects, is Stenabolic.